From staff reports
Having ridden out Hurricane Sandy, a group of 13 students from Ozark Christian College are now contending with flight delays in New York City as they wait to return home to Joplin.
Austin Hedge, 22, a fifth-year student studying church planting and youth ministry, is serving as student leader for the trip.
“Our teacher, Dave Smith, lives in Long Island and flies out three different classes each semester to go to different churches, visit urban environments and learn from people who are doing hands-on ministries,” Hedge said.
“We got up here last Friday and knew there were going to be some storms, but we weren’t too concerned about them. On Saturday, things started to look serious and were told that unless we could get out within an hour or two, we were going to have to wait.”
The OCC group rode out Hurricane Sandy at a Baptist housing unit for missionaries in midtown Manhattan.
“A lot of the damage was in lower Manhattan,” he said. “There’s not a ton of damage where we’re at.”
Getting a flight back to Joplin has been tricky, Hedge said.
The group was originally scheduled to fly out of New York City at 3 p.m. Monday. After the hurricane, the flight was pushed back to tonight. The flight has been delayed again, with the students now scheduled to depart at 7 a.m. Friday.
“It’s an interesting perspective for me and my wife (who is in Joplin),” Hedge said . “We’ve been thinking about moving to the East Coast. We’ve been through tornadoes, but hurricanes are very different.”
Stranded but safe
Gary Duncan found himself watching an all-too-familiar scene Monday.
Roosevelt Hospital in New York City was being evacuated just blocks away from where he, his wife, Suzy, and a group of friends were staying.
“It was such a reminder of the May 22 (2011) tornado in Joplin. My heart goes out to all those hospital workers,” said Duncan, the retired chief executive officer of Freeman Health Systems.
The Duncans left Joplin on Thursday and are staying in a hotel in midtown New York, far enough away that their hotel has power. Their group will likely be there until Thursday. Their flight Tuesday was canceled.
“We have not felt that we are in harm’s way and the hotel staff has been tremendous, doing everything they can. But we can look out the window and see the fires, lots of them.’’
On the road again
At one time Monday, about 300 trucks operated by Con-way Truckload, of Joplin, were operating along the East Coast. Hurricane Sandy brought that traffic to a virtual standstill.
On Tuesday, most of those trucks were back in action, said Wendy Brunner-Lewis, spokeswoman for the company.
“We don’t have anyone who is stranded. We just have some trucks that can’t get into New York or New Jersey right now,’’ she said.
The company reported no injuries to drivers and no damage to vehicles.
“Safety is our biggest thing,’’ she said. “If there is a storm, we tell our drivers to pull over even if the load is delayed.’’
Con-way trucks bring goods into and out of the Joplin area. She said it is unlikely the shipment of goods into the area will face significant delays.
Prepared for worst
Corrie Sifers and Jaclyn Kurle stocked up on food, candles, even yarn and knitting needles in case Hurricane Sandy stranded them without power for a long time.
They didn’t need them. The worst of Sandy skirted Washington, D.C., where they were staying.
Sifers, of Kansas City, Mo., had arrived Friday for what she had planned to be a weekend visit with Kurle, her college roommate. Veda Jones, of Joplin, is Sifers’ mother-in-law. Kurle grew up in Lamar.
“We didn’t even lose power,” Sifers said. “It was windy, and a couple of limbs blew down.”
She said her Tuesday flight to Kansas City was canceled, so she will fly back today.
Kurle, lives near Reagan National Airport, said there was about six inches of rain.
“We lucked out,” Kurle said. “We’ll just enjoy another day together.”
Kurle said she has family back in Lamar and that she has been keeping in touch with them. She said her dad has been following weather updates closely.